Lobster tails are a definite delicacy that nobody wants to waste, but many people are cautious about handling seafood and unsure how long they can safely keep it before it is at risk of going moldy. If you rarely eat lobster, you might be wondering how long it is safe to store lobster tails in the fridge and whether yours can be eaten.
How long do lobster tails last in the fridge? Lobster tails should last for three to four days in a cold environment, so as long as you keep them in the fridge, they don’t need to be used on the day of purchase. It’s a good idea to store them in the coldest part of the fridge, which is usually near the bottom, or beside the ice tray if you have one.
Should Lobster Tails Always Be Stored in the Fridge?
Yes, you should put lobster tails directly in the fridge when you get them home from the store. If they are not already in sealed packaging, transfer them to a Ziploc bag or a sealed container that will minimize the airflow and reduce any risk of cross contamination.
Don’t store lobster tails on the counter or in any other warm location for any notable amount of time. If you are cooking the lobster tails, cool down any leftovers promptly and place them in the fridge as soon as they have reached room temperature. This will reduce the speed at which bacteria can spread and compromise the food.
Chill lobster tails as soon as possible after purchase, and if necessary, have an insulated container in your car to keep them cold on the way back from the store.
Can You Thaw Lobster Tails at Room Temperature?
If you are defrosting a lobster tail, it is best to do so in the fridge if possible. If you need to defrost it more quickly, do this in the microwave, not at room temperature. In temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F, bacteria will spread quickly through the meat, making it unsafe to eat.
If you defrost lobster in the microwave, you will need to use all of it, and not store again in the fridge. If you put it in the fridge, it will need to be reheated again before being eaten, and this will mean it has spent too long in the “danger zone”. It may become unsafe to eat, so do not chill it for later reheating.
Note that you need a defrost setting on your microwave if you want to defrost lobster in this way. If you don’t have a defrost setting, you will need to use cold water, rather than the microwave.
Make sure you stick to the “use up” rule if you defrost the lobster in cold water. Use it up promptly instead of putting it back in the fridge. Because the tails will have been kept above 40 degrees F for quite a while, it is not safe to chill them again.
If you defrost lobster in the fridge, you can keep it for another three or four days. This is the best option if you aren’t sure whether you are going to use all of the lobster at once.
How Do You Tell If Lobster Has Gone Bad?
You can tell when lobster tails have gone bad by smelling the meat and touching it. Bad lobster will have an unpleasant smell that is like ammonia, and it will turn soft, instead of firm. Gently touching the surface should be enough to tell you whether the lobster meat has gone bad.
In some cases, you may see further signs, such as flecks of mold on the meat. You should not taste lobster to ascertain whether it is still safe to eat. Although a small amount is unlikely to be harmful, it’s best to use your other senses, and not risk consuming bacteria-riddled lobster.
When in doubt, throw away lobster rather than eating it. Seafood can harbor dangerous bacteria and you could get very sick from eating lobster that has gone bad. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, and possibly even hospitalization.
Can You Keep Lobster in the Freezer?
If you aren’t sure when you are going to use the lobster, freezing it is the best option. Wrap the lobster well in an airtight container and then place it in the freezer as soon as possible; do not leave it in the fridge for days first.
Freezing will stop bacteria from spreading, but won’t get rid of it, so don’t freeze lobster that is already on the turn. The sooner you get the lobster into the freezer, the better it will keep.
Once lobster is frozen, it should last for months without any issue. You can usually keep it for up to a year before it needs to be used, and even then, you will probably only notice a deterioration in terms of texture, rather than food safety.
Is it Okay to Refreeze Lobster?
You can safely refreeze lobster if you have defrosted it in the fridge and kept it below 40 degrees F while it is unfrozen. You must do so within a couple of days of defrosting, rather than leaving it in the fridge for the full four day estimate.
If your lobster has been thawed for more than two days, cook and use it, rather than freezing it again.
Can You Eat Lobster Tails Cold?
Lobster tails can be served cold, yes. As long as the lobster has been cooked enough to make it safe to consume and stored correctly, the serving temperature should not matter. Many people make lobster salads or serve them with sauces for dipping, and this is perfectly safe.
Make sure you keep the lobster chilled in your refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Don’t let it sit on the counter to warm up before putting it on the table.
Lobster tails should last for up to four days in the fridge, especially if they are purchased fresh and chilled promptly. Make sure you pick them up near the end of your grocery trip and take them straight home to put them in the fridge.